CHIZ QUESTIONS BIG MONITORING BUDGET BUB PROJECTS
While hailing the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) as an excellent template in enlarging the share of local government units in the national budget, Senator Chiz Escudero, however, suggested it should be rid of expensive riders that can be utilized to cover more towns or projects.
Escudero chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, reported that P840 million was proposed in the 2015 national budget for the “monitoring and evaluation” of BuB projects.
The amount is on top of the P20.9 billion for a menu of projects ranging from classrooms to clinics, which were identified by local governments through a process involving citizens’ consultation, and brings real allocation for the BUB to P21.7 billion, said Escudero.
“I think, at the very least, we should reduce the monitoring budget. Then we add whatever amount slashed to the budget of the BuB proper so that we can cover more towns or increase the funding for those already in,” he added.
According to Escudero, Aquino administration’s BuB project introduced in 2013 can be implemented without creating a monitoring industry.
Piloted last year, BuB was officially renamed Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) in the 2015 proposed spending plan. Under the program, funding for projects chosen by local government units (LGUs) is incorporated in the budgets of 11 participating national agencies. There is also a separate budget for monitoring.
In last week’s budget hearing of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Escudero asked department officials on the particulars of its total BuB fund amounting to P5.7 billion.
DILG Sec. Mar Roxas said their BuB is spent on monitoring and evaluation and other activities pertaining to projects in all 1,600 LGUs across the country. Escudero asked the secretary to submit to the committee the detailed breakdown.
Among the participating agencies with GPBP allocations are Department of Tourism (DoT), P348 million; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P2.717 billion; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), P641 million; Department of Agriculture (DA), P4.28 billion; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P323.5 million. Department of Education (DepEd), P1.49 billion; Department of Energy (DoE), P84.6 million; Department of Health (DoH), P1.47 billion; Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), P444.2 million; and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), P296 million.
To monitor and evaluate the projects which will be implemented in partnership with LGUs, “monitoring and evaluation” expenses are proposed for the following: DILG, P451 million; DepEd, P44.8 million; DA, P113.3 million; DOE, P2.5 million; DoH, P44.1 million; DoLE, P13.3 million; TESDA, P8.9 million; DoT, P10.4 million; DSWD, P81.5 million; and DTI, 18.4 million.
To illustrate how funding for “monitoring and evaluation” of projects under BuB could be spent to finance other programs, Escudero said the P44.8 million set aside for DepEd could buy 64,000 classroom chairs, while the P81 million proposed for DSWD could cover the expenses of the agency’s Balik Probinsya Program for some 5,000 families.
“If you look at the DOH budget, there is no distinctly identified budget for monitoring one disease. There’s no funding to track Dengue, for example. Kulang ang ‘health sentinel’ funding support, but sa BuB merong P44 million,” he said.
Cutting GPBP’s monitoring budget by half will free up P400 million and “ if we later disperse this to 800 poor towns at P500,000 each, it can do a lot of good at the grassroots,” Escudero said. /MP